A trademark provides legal protection for a company’s identifying logo, word, or phrase from being used by someone else. Businesses must apply for a trademark with the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO). The USPTO divides all trademarks into 45 different classes, each class representing a different group of products or services. This article will discuss trademark class 34 – tobacco products.
It can be hard to understand which products fall into which trademark classes. Each class has a descriptive title, but the title doesn’t always completely describe all the items in that class. One thing that is consistent, though, is that goods and services are never grouped together in the same class.
The USPTO has broken trademarks into classes so they can protect the trademarks within a class. Dividing the trademarks into classes also allows two companies to use the same name as long as they are in different classes.
For example, Dove soap and Dove ice cream can both be trademarked. They aren’t related products, so they aren’t in the same class. Therefore, it’s unlikely anyone will confuse the two companies.
Choosing the right class can be a tricky business. If you don’t file under the correct class, the USPTO will reject your application, and you will have to start the application process over again (and pay another fee.) Some companies apply under more than one class because their products or services cover many categories.
Businesses can file under more than one trademark class, but they must pay a fee for each class.
Trademark class 34
Trademark class 34 covers all tobacco products and all smoking accessories.
Items containing tobacco
This includes all products that contain tobacco:
- Cigars and cigarillos
- Chewing tobacco
- Pipe tobacco
All substitutes for tobacco are in class 34. Electronic cigarettes and other herbs for smoking fall in this category.
The only exception is a tobacco substitute that is intended for medical use. This product would be in class 5 – pharmaceuticals.
All matches are in this class, along with matchboxes and holders for matches.
This covers the lighters that are meant to be used by smokers. Gas containers for cigar lighters are in this category as well.
All ashtrays are in this category – from the marble ashtrays in a fancy hotel lobby, to the $1.00 plastic souvenir ashtray sold at the gift shop.
Smoking and tobacco accessories, both old-fashioned and modern, are in class 34. Some of these items are:
- Cigarette and cigar holders
- Tobacco flavorings (other than essential oils)
- Cigarette filters
- Cigarette and cigar paper
- Pipes and pipe cleaners
- Cigar cutters
These are rarer than they used to be, but cigarette holders and cigar humidors are in class 34. Snuff boxes, pouches for tobacco, and all cases for cigarettes, cigars, or pipes are in this category.
Specimens of your trademark
If you apply for a trademark, the USPTO will ask you to provide examples of how you have used the mark to market your business. This is especially true if you file a “use-based” application. A use-based application declares that the mark has already been used in business.
The USPTO doesn’t require a specimen for an “intent-to-use” application, but eventually, they will have to amend their application to include a specimen. Specimens required for goods are different than specimens for services.
Specimens for goods include
- Product labels with the mark on them.
- Photos of the product with a label showing the mark.
- A web page with the product with the logo or mark and purchasing information.
- Products in packaging with the mark.
Specimens for services include
- Web pages with the mark.
- Advertisements showing the mark.
- Photos of signage or ads.
- Marketing materials or brochures.
If a company has already gotten a trademark approved in a foreign country, the USPTO will waive the requirement to provide a specimen. This is the only exception to the specimen requirement. Other companies, even when maintaining or renewing a trademark, must still provide a specimen.
Trademark class 34 includes all tobacco products and accessories.
Trademarks are an important part of marketing your business. Wise businesses protect their identifying mark with a trademark to keep other companies from using it.
If you are considering applying for a trademark with the USPTO, you may want to hire the services of a trademark lawyer. An experienced trademark attorney can walk you through the application process. A lawyer will be able to make sure that you are filing under the correct class and that you are not infringing on any other trademark in that class.
Filing your trademark application correctly the first time will keep it from being rejected by the USPTO, and will ultimately save you time and money.